Farmers’ Markets: The New Small Business Incubator

By Melanie Eich

Farmers’ markets have been a long-standing tradition in the Hoosier state and are gaining popularity as they have reached another niche in the market by becoming pseudo-incubators for small businesses. Many start-up food and craft businesses can utilize farmers’ markets in order to test the waters with their products or business skills without having to invest in a traditional store front. People that typically attend farmers’ markets are interested in the story behind the product and how the product came about. By having the ability to talk with the consumers about your product, you can build long-term relationships and customer loyalty that will help your business expand. Having face-to-face contact with consumers can also be an easy way to compile feedback about your product and marketing tactics.

The first step in finding the appropriate market for your business is to search the online database of farmers’ markets. Here, you can look at which products are available at which markets and where your business may fit in with the other vendors. Next, attend a market that you are interested in to decide if they are the right fit for you and if they have the clientele you foresee being the base for your market. There may be a waitlist to get into certain markets, so be aware of when the applications are due for each market you are interested in and pay attention to the requirements they have as they can vary drastically.

While this sounds like an easy process, there are many issues you may run into if you are not careful. If you are preparing food in a home kitchen, you will need to be aware of the restrictions and requirements to make sure you comply with state law. You will also need to look into any vendor fees, licenses, and liability insurances that are necessary for your business. Even if you plan on keeping your business small and local, if you are working with a business partner, having a business agreement in place can help rid you of any headaches if something unforeseeable happens in the future.

Please contact Clements & Shackle at 317-426-0581 if you are looking into starting a new business or expanding into the world of farmers’ markets.